Thursday, February 26, 2009

When work is entertaining, is it still work?

As I turn to direct the next couple into the background-decked corner bathed in perfectly aimed White Lightning strobes, I have no idea what I will find as my assistant Amy checks in the next couple.
Another portrait right?
Sure, but every time I finished with one subject and turned to invite my next to the environment, I was disarmed by their imagination, class, outrageousness or a combination of the three.
First, the super-volunteer woman at church dressed in an outfit that is part lounge singer, part Elvis and a little Tony Soprano crew-member, then a very dapper couple, the husband with a top-hat. Then appears an 80’s hip-hop star look-alike with an alarm clock around his neck and a couple dressed to the nines in orange.
As I did this, my other assistants, former photography student Jen and colleague and pro photographer, Steve, slaved away processing and printing the pictures, trying to keep up with the party that spilled through our door, one couple at a time.
When I mentioned to another colleague my pro-bono work last Saturday for the Welcome to America Project Prom, their eyes turned to the ceiling as they remembered having to cover proms as news events for small-town newspapers. I knew that look. I had worn it more than once, wondering about the news value of such an event during the first couple years of my news career.
I assured them the satisfaction of not only helping a great organization pull off a fun event, but the simple joy and entertainment of repeated gut-laughs derived from working with 200 fun people who choose to help this organization make a difference.
This is one prom, I will never get tired of working. Thanks, Carolyn for the opportunity, and thanks to those who attended for the great time. And thanks on behalf of WTAP for your great generosity. You make the difference in making refugees feel welcome in their new homes.

Also a special thanks to Stephanie for the generous loan of her laptop and printer.

In a separate note, Carolyn has been recognized by CNN Heroes. This from WTAP:
We proudly announce that CNN has named Carolyn Manning, Founder and Director of The Welcome to America Project, a CNN Hero of 2009.

CNN bestows this international honor on a handful of individuals from around the world each year.

Please take a moment to click through and view Carolyn's story online, and see the powerful impact that she and her organization have on the lives of refugee families here in Phoenix:

The story will be online all year, and will be broadcast on CNN and its affiliates this weekend as follows:
(times listed are EST broadcast times; check local listings for Arizona times)

CNN: 9-10p Larry King Live Interview
CNN: 8a, 11a, 2p
Headline News: 7:30a, 1:30p, 5p, 8p
CNN International: 2a, 7a, 12p, 8p

CNN: 10a, 2p, 5p, 11p
Headline News: 2p

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's News

I love this job.
I get to tell a story under interesting circumstances.
Who doesn't love that? I get to reach people to show them things that they might not otherwise see. As a job, I get to make photographs. In the process of my photojournalism, being the eyes of others, I get to cover notable events up close. In spite of the passion most journalists thrive on to cover news, there is, honestly, a cool-factor that adds to the experience.
Everything the president does is news. For any given city, the arrival of any US president, it is news. The fact is that I found out about Obama's visit to Phoenix, it was already too late to work out a credential to his speech in Mesa, but the funny thing about news is that even the landing of the his supercharged airplane is news. You cover what you can. Hey, why not. Maybe I'll get a nice picture or two.

Sharing a laugh with Gov Jan Brewer and Mayor Phil Gordon.

Obama checks out the gift from Gordon, an autographed Shaquille O'Neal shoe.

Gotta get a picture with the president.
Or maybe, gotta get a picture with the mayor?

The motorcade pulls out while secret service ensures that the press doesn't rush up and get pictures of themselves up close and personal with the coolest 747 around.

(from press platform, those secret service guys are serious!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Prom date

Saturday, Feb 21, I will be out at the Welcome to America project Prom, an event for everyone, designed, of course, to raise money for a great local organization that helps newly arrived refugees to Phoenix feel welcome.
As you know I am a big supporter of this organization and do what I can to help. The fundraiser will help pay the expenses of the organization from fuel and insurance on the truck, to storage fees for the growing number of donations of furniture and household goods.
With some help from my friends (thanks, Steve, Jen and Amy!), we will help to make the "prom" experience complete, setting up the prom photo studio for free photos for attendees. Normally I am happiest roaming a room shooting candids, but it really is fun running this little Shoot, Print and Package operation while getting to meet every attendee, getting at least a couple minutes to visit and maybe be a little silly too.

WTAP development director
Sue and her husband Jay.